Letter: Romsey shame

This article was published in 2005, in Newsletter 63.

The Editor welcomes letters for publication. They represent their authors’ own opinions, rather than Campaign policy, even when written by a Campaign committee member.

Simon Nuttall’s article in Newsletter 60, ‘Riding a bike in Romsey Town’ really hit the spot and was, for me, easily the best article published in the last few years in the Newsletter. It really highlighted the ridiculous situation which now exists in Romsey.

Cars permitted to park on pavements in Romsey cause problems for everyone
Image as described adjacent

Legalisation of pavement parking is an absolute disgrace. Pedestrians are given a space of just over a metre which in practice is further reduced by vehicles parking over the lines (never enforced) and wheelie bins, as the photo shows. The wide-scale provision of parking for cars but virtually none for cycles is utterly discriminatory, and where cycles are parked against houses (the only place available to them) it appears that the bike, rather than the car, is what is in the way.

So what is the solution here? Firstly, we have to start with policy which sets an expectation in the medium term that car drivers should not expect that a space to park will be provided.

In practice, over time, the council needs gradually to reduce the amount of car parking so that parking legally becomes one-side only. This would also offer an opportunity for a small percentage to be converted to much-needed cycle parking. People moving into the area would gradually realise that car parking is not necessarily available, and that parking in other areas illegally would result in ticketing. There are areas elsewhere in the city more suited to car ownership.

It is outrageous for the council nefariously to facilitate so actively in Romsey such high levels of car ownership, in an area which is so ideally suited to car-free living. Houses are densely spaced (meaning shorter journeys), the area is near the city centre, pleasant and practical walking and cycling ought to be possible, and there remain many local amenities nearby, particularly along Mill Road.

The car is overtaking the woman walking in the road because the pavement is blocked.
Image as described adjacent

At present, car owners are getting an extraordinarily generous gift of parking, as would be obvious if the area used for car parking were to be costed at the same rate as the (high) land values of the housing next to it. Furthermore, if car owners were required to pay for (the actual cost of) new garage space in the area, I predict that car ownership would decline within a few years such that pedestrians might have their space returned, because it would necessarily be expensive to provide.

Quite frankly, I am amazed that the current situation hasn’t resulted in a challenge under the Disability Discrimination Act by pedestrian groups. It is an outrage that pedestrians here are treated as being at the very bottom of the rubbish heap in Romsey.

Anyone who finds the situation as appalling as Simon and I do really must write to the Councillors for the area to demonstrate that there are people other than car owners whose views need to count. As a first step, small numbers of car parking spaces should be selectively replaced with cycle parking in areas such as around the pubs, and specific proposals could perhaps lead to action.

Martin Lucas-Smith